What are the key compliance issues that you and your clients face?
Currently the biggest issue faced by our hosting platform, but also by clients of our compliance consultancy, is meeting the requirements of the Investment Firms Prudential Regime. IFPR was given to the UK to implement as a “gift” from Brexit. We digest this 500-page document for them, deliver a tailored impact assessment, policy and manuals and suggest any remediation measures needed, like capital structuring. When everything is in place, we help them meet regulatory deadlines and produce timely reporting.
How does Laven use Pascal?
Of course, in the context of the hosting platform, we use Pascal to do background checks on our own clients to comply with KYC (know your customer) and CDD (customer due diligence) regulations. This saves a lot of time and therefore we can put our resources into the regulatory work. But we also use it to do such checks on the clients of our clients as part of our compliance services. That’s where the benefits really start adding up. We soon extended our searches to suppliers and business partners, which helps us to identify not only money laundering risks, but also reputational and ESG (environmental, social & governance) risks. Pascal dives into adverse media and presents elements we should consider, complete with a very handy risk factor highlight at the bottom of each search.
What are the differences with the AML tools you have used to date?
After screening a person or entity once, you don’t have to think about repeating the process at regular intervals. Pascal can keep track of the target and send you an alert if a potential risk is found. This AI-based feature is what really drove our switch. Secondly, Pascal combines many search tasks. Besides checking sanctions and PEP lists, you can also check passports, for instance. And thanks to the AI, you can be sure you’re always checking against the latest versions. What’s also great is that Pascal is still branching out, with new features going live all the time. It’s so well equipped I have to take care I’m not getting “lazy”. I notice I’m doing fewer checks elsewhere. I’ve stopped doing Google searches, for example, because in just a few seconds I can get intelligence that is more whole and gives me more assurance from Pascal. And my personal favourite feature is the import function. You can put all your data in an excel sheet and upload it in just a few minutes. Saves us a lot of manual input.
Pascal does the whole 360 degree check
How did you learn about Pascal?
By word of mouth. A colleague heard enthusiastic stories from a business partner, and we set up a meeting with Vartion, the company behind Pascal. In the demo they gave us, we saw right away how intuitive Pascal is to work with and signed up. We just fell in love with it right from the get-go.
As an early-stage user, has Laven contributed to Pascal’s development?
I think so. We had regular conversations with the developers, based on mutual curiosity, and they acted on our suggestions. We’ve seen some amazing improvements become available. For example, under AMLD-IV, we’re required to prepare risk assessments, and Pascal really cuts the corner – in a good way! It gives us the whole outline of our risk assessment, diving into all the areas we should be looking at and allowing us to finetune our risk appetite towards each risk factor. It’s become a very streamlined system.
What about the user experience?
Our team is a mix of experienced people and juniors. Since the introduction, over a year ago now, no one has struggled. We just throw new people in at the deep end, and it takes two days to a week to train the eye and work effectively with the system. Particularly the Gen Z colleagues find Pascal very intuitive and pick it up the quickest. I’m no longer a frontline user myself, but I was when we started. I needed to make sure I understood it first, then I showed my team how to set up effective searches, what input to include, how to play with the settings to get the information you need and minimise false positives. From that point on, though, it has come pretty naturally to our frontline users and I rarely need to get involved at that level. The system makes it easy to allocate responsibilities and share cases, and it helps a lot with the organisation of the team. Meanwhile, Pascal support is super-efficient. Not just responding to our queries but issuing biweekly updates of changes and new features. Very vocal and very helpful.
Would you recommend Pascal?
We already do! It comes up regularly in discussions with industry peers, and we always advise our clients who are setting up their compliance infrastructure to get a system like Pascal. We tell them you need to have a continuous ability to access a variety of data sources. Pascal does the whole 360o check. We’re happy and excited to see more.